The Director General of the CBI and the immigration minister have both waded in to the argument over how best to solve the current shortage of workers in many sectors, which is a problem right across the UK, particularly since Brexit.
Being Practical Versus Focusing On Training UK Workers To Fill Gaps
At the latest CBI annual conference, their Director General Tony Danker urged the government to be practical on the subject of immigration so that businesses could use foreign workers when there was an obvious shortage in the home labour market. But immigration minister Robert Jenrick has reiterated the Tory party line that businesses should be focusing on training UK workers so that they can reduce net migration.
Immigration Has Increased Potential Growth Of The Economy
On the Sky News website Mr Danker is quoted as saying on the subject:
“People are arguing against immigration but it’s the only thing that’s increased the potential growth of our economy since March.
“Remember that GDP is a simple multiplier of two factors − people and their productivity. And it’s time to be honest: we don’t have the people we need, nor do we have the productivity.”
He added: “Our labour shortages are vast.
“First, we have lost hundreds of thousands of people to economic inactivity post COVID. And anyone who thinks they’ll be back any day now – with the NHS under this kind of pressure – is kidding themselves.
“Secondly, we don’t have enough Brits to go round for the vacancies that exist, and there’s a skills mismatch in any case. And third, believing automation can step in to do the job in most cases is unrealistic.”
Overall Our Ambition Is To Reduce Net Migration
But immigration minister Robert Jenrick had a different viewpoint entirely. Here is what he had to say from the same article on the Sky News website:
“We want a pragmatic, sensible relationship with business.
“But overall, our ambition is to reduce net migration. We think that’s what the British public want. That was one of the driving forces in the vote to leave the European Union back in 2016, and it’s simply not true to say that we’ve adopted a sort of closed door approach since then.”
Mr Jenrick pointed to schemes like visas for health and social care workers, and said more than 300,000 work visas were issued last year “to people who had a certain living standard so they could look after themselves and not rely too heavily on the state” and would cover so-called shortage occupations.
“I think that’s the right approach, rather than drawing on lower skilled workers,” he added.
“And if I was a business manager, I would be looking to the British workforce in the first instance, seeing how I could get local people into my business, train them up, skill them to do the job.”